Community Meshed: SimCity’s Multi-City Mode

By Adam Smith on December 11th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

How had it escaped my attention that best-named-developer Ocean Quigley is working on SimCity alongside challenging-for-the-title Stone Librande? You can hear the latter in the latest SimCity video, as he demonstrates multi-city play. I don’t think the feature was designed for the likes of me, who would rather operate a sort of mayoral dictatorship in a Dark City isolated from the rest of the world, but will you be convinced of the possibilities offered by this online mode?

Neighbouring cities effectively leech services from one another, it would seem. Well, I like any fires in my cities to burn until I choose to provide the residents with emergency services, thank you very much, so I can’t see much of this sort of thing in my future.

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62 Comments »

  1. mehteh says:

    Its a shame its going to have always-online DRM and no way to reload a savegame, as far as i know

    • KeyboardGato says:

      I guess they made the always-on DRM essential to the gameplay experience. but yes, that’s never good.

      • tiffanydean6 says:

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    • dontnormally says:

      “I can still trigger disasters at will!”
      …but you can’t re-load the city, so… why?

      “If you’re like me, destroying a city can be as much fun as building it.”
      CAN be as much fun. Can also be a huge pain in the ass, if you can’t re-load.

      • Cooper says:

        https://twitter.com/Cooper42/status/258016516237312000

        Cooper42 ‏
        @oceanquigley I’m playing XCOM on Ironman mode. Makes me hapy that SimCity will have cloud only saves and no reload and be Ironman too…

        Ocean Quigley
        @Cooper42 Right. I know that you need to be able to reload your city after a disaster. Still trying to figure out the best way to do that.

        Cooper42
        @oceanquigley Best way to reload? Local saves? Mutliple saves of the city? Then if I change PC, I could store them on a floppy disk.

        Ocean Quigley
        @Cooper42 This SimCity is an online, multiplayer game, which adds some complexity to reloading after a disaster.

        • Lev Astov says:

          That’s very cool that he responded to that. It gives me some hope.

          If done right, the cloud thing could be a genuine improvement on the old system. The option of local saves is necessary, however, for those of us who have long periods of boredom without internet access.

        • Lacero says:

          I’m seeing a great opportunity here.
          Say it with me… MICROTRANSACTIONS!

          (actually my line of thought was in people paying third parities to level up cities, so they get a fresh one to crush with volcanoes. But that’s old fashioned now, the companies sell it direct in the modern world.)

          • Machinations says:

            dont worry, there will be plenty of day 1 DLC and an always-online requirement to make sure that any fun you have with this game will be severly restrictred

        • The Random One says:

          Gasp! You tricked him into responding by pretending to agree with him! You, you… JOURNALIST!

          On topic: It’s a good thing that it’s, at least, in their minds. Why not disable it for online play but allow it for solo play? (Oh, yeah, because then they won’t be able to obfuscate how solo play is better.)

        • ludde says:

          Obviously cloud saves wouldn’t hurt, however an elegant UI for synchronizing saves to USB flash drives would be even more applicable — that works even when there’s no Internet available.

          • a2217613 says:

            Then again most PC gamers are happy sucking Valve’s fat drm so they shouldn’t really complain.
            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/06/05/warface-warface/

          • Derppy says:

            I really doubt it’s just a case of syncing a save file to a cloud.

            In order to allow online play, prevent cheating and to keep the cities operating while you are offline, the game is probably tied to a server infrastructure.

            Each action you do in the game contains the normal client-side check and if it’s valid, the action happens on your screen. However, simultaneously the action gets validated server side and if the server finds the action invalid, you get an error, the action is reversed and doesn’t get saved to the database.

            With a system like this, moving between offline and online play isn’t really possible. The server could validate the state saved in a file, but it cannot trust the state was achieved without cheating and the connections to nearby cities would all have to be applied at once, which could be very complex.

            Technically offline-only play would be possible, but Maxis probably doesn’t find it worth the trouble to implement a local version of the server back-end on the user’s computer, or create a simplified saving system without all the validation. It would also mean less micro-transactions and a risk of player accessing the paid content for free.

            I don’t necessarily agree with the system, but I think a persistent, simulated multiplayer environment like this is probably the most valid case for online-only “DRM”.

      • socrate says:

        Destroying my city was never actually what i played sim city for i never actually got why people would do this…other then maybe doing it once and then reloading and even this i did just 1 time…destroying a city was just never fun to me since there is next to no gameplay involved in it and stuff that don’t happen to challenge you like lets say fire or plague in anno are just there for nothing really.

        So far this just look like a copy and paste of city in motion which imo was just horrible and also…OH YEAH ITS ALREADY BEEN DONE!!…then add to this the dumb facebook game aspect to it that i think destroyed alots of game lately,ranking system which apparently replaced unlocking content and instead showing your e-peen is apparently more fun now for some dumb reason in almost every game…yeah im playing sim city to beat the other dude that i don’t even know and will never actually meet that make alots of sense or even if they were my friend why would i care instead of emmm i don’t know…build a city im proud of and that i created out of pure fun and imagination…

        Then there is the big always online that isnt required and wasnt a feature that people ever wanted in a simcity game….i dont know why don’t they listen to the people that always played sim city and want it improved instead of adding stuff no one actually asked…sim city always lacked alots of gameplay and flexibility element and instead they put this in??

        Add to this the obvious MICROTRANSACTION GRRRRR!!…sims 3 is coded and designed so badly that its actually sad that people actually pay for these dumb expansion that add almost nothing and then offer you to buy a gazillion thing with micro that should have been in the expansion to begin with,the game actually run the same on my 5 year old pc then on my top end pc that is 1 month old and yet the more you play the more the game become unplayable because of the cache of the game that hit 3 gig of space and that you have to delete each few time…seriously hire some real coder and dev that didint just came out of school and can be underpaid plz

        Multi-city mode…./facepalm….sooooo you reduce the city size and split them into a bunch of “sector” and make it sound like you have load of city in 1 place which is basically lying right in our face…the gameplay which seem a bit more active is just really visually…interactively its still a game that offer no flexibility at all in terms of gameplay.

        Who even said i have friend to play this…my friend spend maybe 1 day max in simcity then they move to other FPS and minecraft type game,so playing with my friend online doesn’t really push me to have to deal with Origin at all or even buy this game.

        I dont hate everything i do like the adding part to existing building to make it more efficient or fun….but this is just 1 good suprise compared to the countless crap that was added.

        So no thank you…il just get it in an other way that is innevitable and that i won’t have to deal with the always online and Origin and all the rest of the horrible thing this come with.

        EA /rolleye

        • philbot says:

          Thank you for this comment. I completely understand how you feel- These developers need to realise that some people play games to escape “reality”, and to immerse themselves in a fictional universe, and gameplay can become immensely personal. adding social features is fine, but when they become an essential part of gameplay it really persecutes many players.

          • JaminBob says:

            Yes! Yes! I play SC and most other games do de-stress, not fight fires! My love was always gardening, pruning and focussing on transport once built, always disasters ‘off’.

        • zbeeblebrox says:

          I loved causing disasters…but then again, that was because I never ever made it past the early stages of building a city, and most of the time would just load a scenario to play around in. The way this version is looking, I don’t even know if scenarios are *possible*, let alone exist

  2. Zarf says:

    I thought they were remaking SimCity, not SimTown.

    • JaminBob says:

      Yes. Maps are too small.

      Plus, always on is terrible, modding will be nerfed, origin is a no no, the price looks too high… basically it looks as bad as sim-city societies with the addition of crappy origin and DRM.

  3. Chikiwikie says:

    And retarded traffic simulation like every SimCity ever.

    • ulix says:

      You either haven’t watched the video, or you haven’t played any Sim City game ever.

      One of the two.

      • JaminBob says:

        I agree that the traffic simulation has always been pretty ropey, up to SC2k it was ok-ish, because it was based on density, but 4 tried to do origin / destination and the pathing was often really poor … Ignore my damn highway because the country lane is 10m shorter will you you ignorant sims?!

  4. sonofsanta says:

    Adam Smith is a fine name. You’re like the everyman protaganist of a game that we can all identify with, such that we see these fantastical worlds through your eyes.

    Also, if your middle name is Robert, you would be ARS, and that sounds like arse which is a funny word. This is not as funny if your middle name is not Robert or Richard or R-something.

  5. Kollega says:

    “PEGI 12″. Ratchet: Gladiator, which is basically “Battle Royale meets The Running Man“, is PEGI 3. Truly, i will never understand people who rate media in general and video games in particular.

    • Buckermann says:

      But it’s “interactive”!
      Numerous studies have conclusively shown that interactivity leads to an increased something something!!!
      It’s common sense, and why do you hate children so much :(

    • Brun says:

      The standards for rating media have changed over time – the rating a game has is highly dependent on when it was released (and thus when it was rated). I read an article on this very subject a while back, talking about why the original Halo on Xbox was only rated T while less violent contemporary games were rated M. It really just boils down to the culture at the time – during the early days of the ESRB rating system in the US (90′s and early 2000′s), the kind of violence you see in Halo wasn’t considered worthy of the highest rating (likewise, publishers were much more afraid of publishing M-rated games at that time).

      • Kollega says:

        Yeah, after posting it did occur to me that the standards might have changed… but still. The only reason i can think of that would lead to this game being rated 12 and up is the presence of casinos and therefore gambling. But even that is doubtful.

        • Baines says:

          It could be because of casinos and stuff. Or some equally arbitrary distinction.

          Back when Twisted Metal Black was made, one of the developers described the ESRB as a checklist system. It didn’t really matter how the stuff in any entry was presented, it just mattered how many different boxes you checked.

          As for Ratchet: Deadlocked/Gladiator, the “for kids” presentation acts as a cushion for its rating. With different character models, the exact same game would have gotten a higher rating. (The US rating was the generic Teen, not Europe’s 3+.) Replace the worms in Worms with human soldiers and those games would risk jumping up a rating level as well., even if the humans were cartoonish.

      • briktal says:

        I didn’t see anywhere that listed Halo 1 as T, just M.

  6. Dark Nexus says:

    I do so love the concept…. as an option. If only they’d completely detached singleplayer from it.

    • BirdsUseStars says:

      I agree. It’s like they are trying to turn the game into a social network. For me, Sim City is supposed to be more like tending a zen garden, and I’m not interested in attaching a “leaderboard” or a bothersome sibling city to the experience.

  7. aepervius says:

    Woot the city are incredibly small. Not that I care , since you can’t load/save city but whaou. Microcity.

    • Chmilz says:

      I know, they’re so tiny! I feel like a couple hours of gameplay and I’ve maxed one of those tiny zones out. They really need a video that shows me what will keep me engaged over time.

  8. felisc says:

    Reinhard Police remains the best developper name, though.

  9. Brise Bonbons says:

    Showing the region like that just illustrates how small the “cities” are in this game, or at least it appears so. Or is that just me? Based on my foggy memories of Sim City 2000, I feel like the “region” in this game isn’t much larger than a city map in 2000. Maybe I’m not seeing the scale correctly…

    Either way, it seems like a rather forced mechanic, or a sneaky way around some limitation to city size. I am not impressed by this specific aspect, though other parts of the game are looking pretty neat.

    EDIT: Based on the ninja post by aepervius, it is clearly not just me. Yay I’m not alone anymore!

  10. webwielder says:

    One click for the brain-fevered ones, who believe in cities beyond ours!

  11. cliffski says:

    wasn’t the multiple-city aspect of sim city 4 the one aspect nobody liked or used?

    • Smashbox says:

      No way, that’s the only way to build a stable and realistic city.

      • Cooper says:

        It was required for a stable -city-. Because the areas bordered one another.

        Here they don’t, for some reason. It’s more like a series of satellite towns without a main city they satellite. And they’re half the size of SimCity 4 cities.

        It’s a really odd design choice.

        • yurusei says:

          Isn’t that how most cities work though?

          The downtown CBD area is usually surrounded with suburbs or satellite cities where people live, then commute downtown to work.

  12. SuicideKing says:

    OCEANFACE!

  13. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    First, the DRM sounds awful, and I currently don’t have the setup to play a game that has always-on DRM. Period.

    Second, we need to remember that this isn’t being made by the people who made SimCity 2000 (or 3000, or 4000, or whatever) but the people who made Spore, the Spore expansion, the Spore aRPG, and the Sims Medieval. Let’s all adjust our expectations.

  14. Simas says:

    They forgot to turn the vsync on.

  15. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Wow, that’s an incredible small region. Why they didn’t make them big, and connected to the rest of the grid, like 4? What the hell is up with this almost obsessive desire to fit multiplayer in this game? It sounds very detrimental to the gameplay.

    The interface looks very odd as well, but I’ll chalk that up to unfinished assets.

    Also, “Advanced” inter-city play? I didn’t really see that. At all.

  16. PedroBraz says:

    Casinos causes crime simply by beeing there? I´d dare say thats a political statement even though EAxis tries to avoid such things.
    Anyway I can´t wait to see how people will exploit and harras others with this system, like in every other game. It´s kinda strange that developers still build their games around the belief that players will help each other. Other players are dicks, and like every other developer, they are going to get caught with their pants down.

    Personally I´d like to make a sort of Escape From SimCity dystopian prison like hellhole. I wonder if thats possible.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I don’t think implying certain policies have certain impacts on communities is political so much as… I dunno, sociological?

      Either way, you’re modeling behavior, at some point you need to just create a model and go with it, I don’t think you can try to be impartial or balanced in this case.

      Maybe you’re right though. As a lefty I tend to look down on organized gambling because it is designed to pray on certain vulnerable people without offering much benefit in return besides shitty low paying jobs, but I don’t think think of that as a very political view. Unless we’re talking excessive regulation or something like that.

      Or, if you prefer, without some gameplay downside to just building Casinos everywhere, they’d become a must-have revenue booster in every strategy?

  17. Leaufai says:

    I hope Stone Librande (what’s up with the weird names over at Maxis) cheated to get this city. Because no way in hell a city should get all those middle-class homes and residential/office towers with no fire department and a small police station.

  18. Citrus says:

    “Multi-City” mode.. aka. “DRM mode”.

    Then again most PC gamers are happy sucking Valve’s fat drm so they shouldn’t really complain.

    • Brun says:

      Very different things, but okay.

    • socrate says:

      How is steam even close to that?i really don’t think you have any idea what DRM really mean and its not multi-city mode its then entire game how it was built and the intent of that.

    • Machinations says:

      theyre not even comparable – 0/10 for trolling

      did you mayhap get banned by Valve for doing something naughty? tsk tsk

      anyway, keep up the good contrarian fight! /laugh

  19. macks says:

    I’m feeling better about the always-online DRM now that I’ve seen a lot of the videos of the gameplay – because the game looks like it’s going to be an awful reincarnation of Simcity Societies.

  20. fastica says:

    Looks like online stuff is ruining this game. I have all day to interact with real people. When I play games I like to do it alone, like when I read a book. Sadly, scores, microtransactions, always online DRM and multiplayer are destroying my favourite franchises. They should’ve keep this game single player but with an integrated online building exchange so user can post the buildings they created and also city journals.

  21. mrmalodor says:

    DRMFACE!

  22. Finn says:

    You know who is going to have local saves and play offline? Pirates, that’s who.
    Once more the full on idiocy of “always on DRM” and “cloud saves” rears it’s ugly head, but nooooo, let’s just blame pirates for being evil nasty greedy people and “forcing” companies to treat us, paying customers, like shite.

  23. Machinations says:

    No way will I buy this and further encourage:

    Simplification of an existing franchise to appeal to a ‘broader market’ – PR codespeak for ‘the suits looked at Zynga and we want a piece of that action’

    Online only gameplay – this recent trend, a la Diablo 3, needs to be stopped. Apparently Maxis/EA didnt notice the huge amount of returns processed for D3.

    That is all. They can ruin SimCity, but they wont be getting my cash.

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